Yesterday brought a report of potential interest between the Yankees and free-agent-to-be Carlos Beltran, but that’s not the only player in these League Championship Series who could be a fit for the Yankees this offseason. Here are three names from each still-alive team that could be an option — one way or another — for next season.
SS Jhonny Peralta
Now that the Tigers have Jose Iglesias, they have little reason to re-sign departing Peralta. Clearly he comes with some unwanted baggage — not sure the Yankees need another player with Biogenesis ties — but he’s a pretty good hitter with experience at shortstop and third base, two positions that happen to be significant question marks going forward.
2B Omar Infante
Another Tigers free agent to be, and another versatile infielder who could fill one opening or another. Infante is 31 years old and hit .318/.345/.450 this season, one of his best all-around seasons coming at a good time as he hits the market. He’s primarily a second baseman, but he’s played shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions.
RHP Joaquin Benoit
A very good setup man for quite a while, Benoit stepped into the closer role in the middle of this season and handled it pretty well. The obvious fit here would be as either competition for — or a complement to — Dave Robertson. Of course, he turns 37 in July, but there aren’t many available, experienced closers much younger.
SS Stephen Drew
The Red Sox signed him to a one-year deal last winter, and he responded with a .253/.333/.443 slash line as their regular shortstop. Now the Yankees could try to do something similar — assuming they can’t count on Derek Jeter at shortstop — and hope that Drew’s left-handed bat is a good fit for Yankee Stadium.
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
The Red Sox traded for Saltalamacchia back in 2010, and now his contract is about to expire. He’s 28 years old, and he’s hitting the market at a time when the Yankees don’t have a proven offensive catcher. Saltalamacchia hit .273/.338/.466 with 40 doubles this season. He’s a switch hitter who’s best from the left side.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
Hard to imagine a Yankees/Red Sox trade, so potential targets are pretty much limited to free agents. And the Red Sox don’t have a bigger free agent than Ellsbury, their 30-year-old center fielder who’s about to hit the market as one of the top players available. Not a great fit for the Yankees considering they have Brett Gardner, but I suppose they could trade away Gardner and then sign Ellsbury.
3B David Freese
Second base prospect Kolten Wong is big league ready, and breakout second baseman Matt Carpenter is able to play third base, so the Cardinals could shuffle their infield to make Freese available on the trade market. This was a down year for Freese — .262/.340/.381 with only nine homers — but he’s an experienced third baseman and veteran postseason performer who could be readily available.
1B Matt Adams
A big power-hitting lefty, Adams has been plenty productive for the Cardinals, but he doesn’t have an everyday job because Allen Craig is at first base. Hard to think the Cardinals would trade Craig — they just signed him to a long-term deal — but they might be open to dealing Adams, who could be a strong DH option for the Yankees. That said, Craig’s ability to play the outfield means Adams doesn’t have to be on the trading block.
RHP Lance Lynn
A former first-round pick who’s pitched just two full seasons in the big leagues, Lynn turns 27 in May and that makes him an old man by Cardinals standards. There might be more exciting young pitchers on that Cardinals roster, but the chances of trading for Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal or Carlos Martinez seem extremely slim. Lynn might not be available either, but he might be a more realistic target.
OF Andre Ethier
Either Ethier or Matt Kemp, really. Both were recently signed to long-term deals, but the Dodgers outfield is now overflowing with Kemp, Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasil Puig. That’s led to speculation about a possible trade. The Yankees could be in the outfield market if they don’t sign Beltran or re-sign Curtis Granderson, but is it worth picking up either of these contracts?
3B Juan Uribe
A potential short-term, relatively cheap fill-in at third base. Uribe is a free agent at the end of this season, so he should be readily available, and he’s coming off a solid 2013 season with a .278/.331/.438 slash line. That said, he also turns 35 in July and played a total of just 143 games in 2011 and 2012, hitting just .199/.262/.289. Mark Ellis, at 36 years old, could be a similar experienced but underwhelming option at second base should the Dodgers decline his 2014 option.
LHP J.P. Howell
Nothing flashy or particularly exciting here, just a veteran left-handed reliever with experience in the American League East — he spent most of his big league career with the Rays — who held lefties to a .164/.225/.227 slash line this season. Howell is still just 30 years old, and could be a veteran replacement for departing free agent Boone Logan.
Associated Press photos